Dear Black Community,
Remember this date of July 13, 2013.
Remember this day almost after three decades after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and her right to equality; remember this day 50 years after Martin Luther King proclaimed, “I Have a Dream” to thousands in front of the Lincoln Memorial; and please, remember this day after just five short years ago America elected its first African-American president.
Remember this day where our judicial system found George Zimmerman, the 29-year-old former neighborhood watch captain, NOT GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES for killing an unarmed 17-year-old black male child, Trayvon Martin. Please, remember this day.
When that jury read the statement of its conclusion, it also offered a few shocking, scary and detrimental “facts” to not only the Black Community, but our nation as a whole:
1. Under this Stand Your Ground Law, a person may kill an unarmed child in “self defense,” even if he or she initiated the supposed “life threatening” occurrence with said child. And this person will most often win because it’s his/her word against someone who is now deceased.
The non-emergency call tapes clearly show that Zimmerman was told he did not need to follow Trayvon Martin. Now if you want to believe that this “concerned citizen” who had been rejected to join a police force willingly complied with the dispatcher’s request and returned to his vehicle, that’s on you. Any fool can see Zimmerman took matters into his own hands, following Trayvon and, therefore, initiating any future confrontation(s). The court just told America today that you can get into a scuffle with someone; have no serious injuries whatsoever to support your (I feared for my life) claims; shoot and kill the person; claim self-defense; and win because your word is now fact compared to the silence of a corpse.
2. Racial profiling is acceptable. It is perfectly okay to deem a dark-skinned person (especially male) wearing a hoody as someone who looks like “he’s up to no good” and who is “on drugs or something.”
These were Zimmerman’s exact words. He did not know Trayvon from Adam, yet looking at his attire on a dark, rainy night, he could conclude this? How so? Because, Martin was black, male and wearing a hoodie, which we all know is what every thug wears. And we all know black people, especially black men, are all thugs who use drugs and are up to no good when they’re walking through a neighborhood the latest statistic tells us they cannot possibly afford to live in.
3. The lives and rights of Black people (especially males) are inferior.
Case in point: Michael Vick. He served 21 months in prison for fighting dogs…DOGS. Yet, Zimmerman can openly shoot and kill a human being, and that very same night the bullet from his gun took Trayvon’s life, he is sleeping in the warm and comfort of his own bed, in his own home? In America, I can put two animals against each other and go to prison, but if I kill a little black boy? Oh, we’re not even going to arrest you for that. Of course it was self defense; of course we (the Sanford Police Dept.) have no other reason not to believe your story.
My brothers and sisters, we have to wake up. If what happened today isn’t an eye opener for our community, I don’t know what is. Trayvon Martin is just one of many and an example of what can be the norm and routine in our nation’s future thinking.
Understand what happened here: A young, black kid wearing a hoodie was walking home and was murdered. What is America telling us? I can look the “wrong way” to someone and, just like that, he/she can end my life. All because of how the person thought I looked and associated this with my character. We have to wake up family!
Our community is so focused on having swag, rocking the latest style, looking a certain way, chasing this paper, and having these pseudo titles behind our names thinking once we obtain these things we’re #winning.
No, black people, we are losing—and terribly.
Racism is systematic. It is when one group has the authority and influence to control institutions to systematically oppress another group. Blacks (and minorities in general) are a speck in the sea of those in positions of authority in this country. We represent a small dot on the immense canvas of those who govern how our nation operates. We will never be able to make a lasting difference and true change if we don’t stop focusing on this false sense of success, and start focusing on educating ourselves and putting our people in true positions of authority to create change for us.
Say what you want, but as popular as the Beyonces and Jay Zs are, they still aren’t in the authoritative positions to affect policies. Sure, Jamie Foxx, the Miami Heat team, and countless other celebrities can physically support the injustice of this Trayvon Martin case, but look at the verdict. It makes no difference if superstars outside of our judicial system bring awareness to an issue if our judicial system is still controlled and operated by the select few it was designed to protect.
Just look at history: Emmit Till’s murder caused an uproar and the two white men were finally put on trial for murdering a black boy. Finally. And speaking out against their crime was a direct result of that. But, look at the outcome. You had an all white jury and a white judge who let those men walk free even when all the evidence pointed to their guilt.
Fast forward to this trial. Global Grind wrote an article about the jurors, who were all white and Hispanic. Well, isn’t that convenient that no one on the jury represented Martin’s race, but Zimmerman’s (when his doctor testified, she said he marked “white” on his records). The majority of the jurors were described as middle-aged or older white women. Another convenience.
And people claimed, “Oh most of the jurors are mothers” thinking that meant something. Please remember that mothers also spit on blacks; called them niggers; protested against the Little Rock Nine as they tried to walk into school; and supported their husbands as they burned crosses in Blacks’ yards while lynching black men, women and children.
Please, please wake up Black people! Cases like this are going to continue to happen and this country and its judicial system is going to continue to defend, protect and benefit whomever it pleases as long as we operate under it instead of within it.
So, Zimmerman got off for killing a black boy; what do we do now? Where do we go from here?
Family, the nation we live in; the one our men and women defend today; the one that was built on the backs of our ancestors just sent us a message today. And so did this system we pledge allegiance to:
America’s system will benefit a select few and it will decide who that constitutes. You do not make that decision.
So, again I ask, what are you going to do?
Service is her passion; writing is her platform; uplifting women and the Black Community is her purpose. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her at www.sisterscanwespeak.tumblr.com.